Tony Labat

New Langton Arts

It would prove useful to consider why and how Tony Labat wasn’t included in RoseLee Goldberg’s live art festival PERFORMA ’05, given that this sharp retrospective closed just weeks before that event kicked off in New York. Labat (along with Chris Burden and Dan Graham, Lucille Ball and Ann Magnuson, Richard Pryor and Johnny Knoxville) should be a key figure in any history of artists using action to negotiate the role of media (television and video, especially) in constructing the various, often ephemeral, aesthetic, sexual, and political narratives producing and produced by bodies or their absence. Memory loss only partly explains it.

In 1978, while still an undergraduate at the San Francisco Art Institute, Labat made his first proposal to New Langton Arts, a local alternative space founded thirty years ago. As Susan Miller, editor of the cogent catalogue accompanying the show, writes: “

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